A soaking rain wasn’t going to ruin Vernon Adams’ first start in the CFL.
The rookie quarterback got the call on Saturday and lifted his Montreal Alouettes to a 19-14 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium.
“I’m just so happy for this offence and just finding that fight at the end of the day and getting that win,” Adams said after he helped his team end a two-game losing skid and improve to 5-11.
“We kept our composure the whole day… I want to thank the guys for having my back the whole game.”
The Riders slipped to 5-11 and had their four-game winning streak snapped. Both team have already been eliminated from CFL playoff contention.
An unrelenting rain kept the football and field conditions slippery from start to finish, and it affected both offences for the majority of the contest.
Neither team threatened the end zone in the first half. A pair of Boris Bede field goals (50 yards and 24 yards) in the first quarter gave Montreal a 6-0 lead. The Als led 6-5 at halftime.
Montreal’s defence provided a spark midway through the third quarter. Chip Cox sacked Darian Durant and knocked the ball from the quarterback’s hand. Montreal recovered at the Saskatchewan four-yard line. One play later, Sam Giguere took an end-around handoff for a touchdown that gave the visitors a 13-5 lead.
“We get paid to play football and that’s what we love to do,” Cox said. “All of us love playing football. Even if we weren’t getting paid to play it, we’d go out and play flag football when we could. What do you expect us to do? You expect us to quit playing?”
Adams’ first career touchdown, a 22-yard strike to Marcus Henry midway through the fourth quarter, proved to be the winning score. At the time, it gave the Alouettes a 19-5 lead.
Adams finished the game 11-for-24 passing for 177 yards and one touchdown and one interception. He also rushed for 26 yards.
“He was very slippery, very good at making moves and making guys miss,” Riders linebacker Greg Jones said of Adams. “And he was making guys miss outside of the pocket too. You have to try to swarm him as best you can and make him stop his feet.”
On the ensuing possession, Durant capped a 10-yard, 97-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown run that cut the deficit to seven with approximately seven minutes remaining.
The Riders had two opportunities late to tie or take the lead. Their first chance was snuffed out with 1:15 remaining when a third-down pass attempt fell incomplete at the Montreal seven-yard line.
After Montreal conceded a safety to make it 19-14, the Riders got the ball back on their 35-yard line with 26 seconds to go. That drive, too, fell short as time expired.
Saskatchewan running back Joe McKnight was the team’s top performer on offence for the second consecutive week. Playing in his second game with the Riders, McKnight rushed for 62 yards on 13 carries. He also had 81 yards on nine receptions. The previous week, the former Edmonton Eskimo starred in the team’s 29-11 victory over the Toronto Argonauts with 150 rushing yards.
Durant was 25-for-37 passing for 208 yards. He rushed for 34 yards.
Both teams will conclude their 2016 seasons next weekend. The Riders will host the B.C. Lions in the final CFL game to be played at Mosaic Stadium. The Alouettes will host the Calgary Stampeders.